Archie Mitchell in 2009
|Portrayed by||Larry Lamb|
|First appearance||8 July 2008|
|Last appearance||28 December 2009|
|Introduced by||Diederick Santer|
Archibald Lionel "Archie" Mitchell is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Larry Lamb. The character of Archie is the father of already established characters Ronnie (Samantha Womack) and Roxy Mitchell (Rita Simons), and a member of the Mitchell family, who have appeared in the soap since 1990. Roxy is the younger of the two daughters and seemingly shared a closer relationship with Archie whereas Ronnie's relationship with him is not so amicable. After originally leaving Walford following the revelation of his deceit and lies, Archie returned on 9 July 2009, and made his last appearance (as a corpse) on 28 December 2009 after being murdered on Christmas Day - it was revealed two months later that he had been killed by Stacey Slater.
Archie was born and bred in East London to Philip and Sandra Mitchell in 1939. He suffered through an abusive childhood at the hands of his father. He was known to be a warm, charismatic man to those he came across, in particular his sister-in-law Peggy (Barbara Windsor), whom he helped when she suffered at the hands of his violent brother Eric. He lived in Romford with his wife Glenda (Glynis Barber), whom he married in 1968, and their two daughters Ronnie (Samantha Womack) and Roxy (Rita Simons). Behind closed doors, Archie was shown to be a nasty man. He repeatedly had affairs and turned Glenda into a bitter and broken woman, and raped Ronnie when she was 13. When he discovered his teenage daughter Ronnie was pregnant at 14 years old, he was furious that Glenda knew before him. He told her to stay away from her boyfriend Joel Reynolds (Cavan Clerkin), but she refused, saying she is in love with him. She gave birth to her daughter Amy in 1989. After the birth, Archie put her up for adoption, leaving his daughter heartbroken, resulting in her hatred for him. Glenda saw Archie manipulate Ronnie, and when she got pregnant with her third child, Danny (Liam Bergin), she left as she did not want Archie to manipulate another child. Ronnie disowned her father and walked out in 1993 and Archie had not seen or talked to her since. After his daughters moved out he moved to Weymouth.
Archie gets a visit from Ronnie and Peggy. They are searching for Roxy, who has disappeared from Ibiza. Peggy knows that Roxy is staying with Archie in Dorset but does not tell Ronnie, worried that she will refuse to go. Ronnie is furious to see her father after 15 years, wanting nothing to do with him. Archie and Peggy catch up and he tells her he has survived cancer. Wanting to hurt Ronnie, Archie lies that Amy died 13 years ago but Ronnie guesses that he's lying and does not believe him. Roxy agrees to return to London if Ronnie and Archie make up but Ronnie whispers in her father's ear that she will kiss his gravestone when he's dead. Archie persuades Peggy to start a relationship while they can and tells Ronnie he will see her in London in a few weeks.
Now engaged, Archie and Peggy return to The Queen Victoria public house. Peggy realises she cannot trust him and tests him by sending texts from Suzy Branning's (Maggie O'Neill) mobile but he postpones the wedding when he finds out. He begins controlling his daughters by persuading Danielle Jones (Lauren Crace) to steal a letter from Joel that he later burns in front of Ronnie. He makes his dislike of Sean Slater (Robert Kazinsky), Roxy's boyfriend, clear - feeling that he's not good enough. He causes trouble by manipulating both of them and stopping Sean from being there when Roxy gave birth to her daughter, Amy, prematurely. He also controls Peggy, changing how she dresses and distancing her from her friends. Worried about her daughter's paternity, Roxy has a DNA test done and Archie finds the results. On catching Suzy stealing from the Mitchells' safe, he tells her he will keep quiet providing she makes sure Sean finds the DNA test results, proving that he is not the father.
Archie realises that Danielle is Ronnie's daughter when he sees her locket and recognises it as the one Ronnie gave her baby before giving her up for adoption. He tells her Ronnie suffers from depression and to let him tell Ronnie that Danielle is her daughter when the time is right, wanting to protect himself from Ronnie discovering his lies. He tells Danielle that he will tell Ronnie but later plans to kill her. Unable to go through with it, he pays her to leave, saying Ronnie knows and wants nothing to do with Danielle.
On his wedding day, Archie is angered by Peggy's decision not to wear the suit he chose for her. When challenged by Peggy, he decides he loves her regardless and the ceremony proceeds. At the reception, Ronnie sees Danielle about to snatch Amy and she tells her the truth. Danielle realises Archie has lied to her but Archie claims Danielle is mentally ill. Danielle tries proving herself but Ronnie believes Archie and throws Danielle out, later finding the locket. Realising Danielle has told the truth, she goes after her, despite Archie's attempts to stop her, disgusted at his lies. Peggy is equally disgusted and yells at the wedding guests to leave. Archie's schemes and lies are revealed and the Mitchells are stunned by the news that Danielle is a relative and that she has been killed in a car crash. Archie is thrown out of the Vic and disowned by his family. Peggy orders her son Phil (Steve McFadden) to kill Archie, so he kidnaps him and threatens him he will bury him in cement. Archie falls for the blackmail and begs for his life, offering Phil money. However, the cement mixer only contains water. Phil tells Archie to leave, saying if he returns, he will be killed for real.
Archie returns on 10 July 2009 later, wanting Peggy back, and reconciling with Roxy. He refuses to leave and reveals he has moved into a house nearby. Archie asks Roxy to pass on a gift to Ronnie: the baby blanket she bought for her daughter when she was born. Peggy eventually agrees to talk to Archie and believes he is sorry for his past actions. Phil sees him, breaking into his house with a gun, but sees him and Peggy kissing. Peggy tells Phil that Archie has changed, but Phil tells Archie to stay away from his family and drops a bullet into his glass. Phil later tells Archie he's going to kill him, but is stopped by Ben (Charlie Jones). Peggy goes on holiday and when she returns, Archie begs her to take him back, but she refuses.
Roxy invites everyone to Archie's housewarming party, but Ronnie organises a party at The Queen Victoria so nobody turns up. Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks) tells Ronnie that Archie paid her to spy on her and Roxy and Ronnie tells Roxy, who - furious with her father - moves out. He buys the car lot from Jack Branning (Scott Maslen), upsetting Ronnie further. Danielle's biological father, Joel Reynolds comes to Walford, and he and Ronnie rekindle their relationship, irritating Archie but Archie takes action by paying Joel to leave Walford and never return. Joel refuses, saying he can stand up to him now so Archie blackmails him about his family and Joel leaves until Ronnie conforts him and tells her father that Joel is back and there nothing he can do about it.
Archie's niece, Sam (Danniella Westbrook), returns from Brazil despite being on the run. Roxy and Sam have never got on and Roxy is furious to learn that Sam's return has been kept from her. Archie sees Roxy in the Square, following a row, and she tells him. He also learns of Sam's engagement to Ricky Butcher (Sid Owen) and gives them a gift, but it is declined. When Sam is arrested, Archie puts up her bail money on the condition he can have his family back. He and Peggy celebrate but Ronnie, Roxy, Billy (Perry Fenwick), and Phil return the money, disowning him for good. He vows to get revenge by taking The Queen Victoria from them, with Janine's help. His plans to burn the pub down and frame Billy does not work as Peggy sees through his lies. He insists that she's wrong and they kiss briefly. Archie convinces Sam to flee so the Mitchells lose the bail money. Phil got a loan from a loan shark but after being beaten up for not meeting the repayments, gets a loan from Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt), secured on The Queen Victoria. If the money is not repaid in two weeks, Ian will get The Queen Victoria. Archie tries convincing Ian to sell him the loan but Ian declines so Janine plans to seduce Ian and blackmail him to sell the loan to Archie. Not pleased with this idea, Archie proposes to Janine, trying to stop her but she ignores him and goes ahead, later accepting his proposal. Billy hears them talking about their engagement and their plans to take The Queen Victoria. Realising they've been overheard, they convince him to let them make him an offer to get him on their side and he agrees when they persuade Billy's ex-wife Honey (Emma Barton) to let Billy have their children over Christmas and New Year. They then blackmail Ian to sell them the loan, which he does, reluctantly, worried about his half-brother, Ben.
When Archie and Peggy's divorce papers come through, Archie tells Peggy that he still loves her and wants her back. Peggy's employee and Janine's flatmate Ryan Malloy (Neil McDermott) overhears them and tells Janine. Janine then shows her engagement ring to Peggy and Peggy recognises it as it belonged to Archie's mother. She confronts Archie, annoyed that she fell for his lies again. She signs the divorce papers and the Mitchells celebrate in the pub. Ryan alerts them to the fact that Archie and Janine are behind the bar, and the Mitchells are angry to discover that Ian sold them the loan and the pub is now theirs, as the deadline has not been met. The Mitchells vow to carry on as normal, but Archie has Peggy's name as licensee replaced with his and tells them that they are now trespassing on his property. Ronnie stands up to him and he pushes her into the bar and Roxy angrily reveals Ronnie's pregnancy but, thanks to Archie, Ronnie has a miscarriage. Peggy tells Archie that he has killed another of Ronnie's children, warning him to stay away but later invites Archie and Janine to The Queen Victoria during a Christmas Eve party and gives them the keys.
On Christmas Day, Archie tells Ian the CD of the recording is under the tree for his wife Jane (Laurie Brett), but Ian fails to find it. Archie convinces Janine to skip Christmas dinner as he has a surprise treasure hunt for her. She eventually finds an envelope containing a one-way ticket to Poland and Archie throws her out, after telling her he knows that she and Ryan planned to double-cross him. Archie is then visited by a number of people: Jack threatens to kill him if he hurts Ronnie again, he finds Ian searching for the CD and tells him that it is on his laptop and he can make copies at any time, threatening to phone Jane, before evicting him from the pub. Sam attempts to confront Archie but he shuts the door on her. Ronnie tells him that he will not make her care for him and she would not care if he died. Archie throws her out, reminding her that of the exact spot she pushed Danielle onto the night she died. Peggy threatens him, telling him that she is not just a sweet, innocent old lady and that he has no idea who he is messing with. She tells Archie if he does not leave the pub that night he will regret every cruel and evil act he has ever done. In return, he threatens her that unless she returns, he will have the pub converted to flats, becoming emotional when he says that he will be waiting for her as she leaves. Bradley Branning (Charlie Clements) walks in and punches Archie, loosening one of his teeth but punches the bar too, leaving blood. He warns Archie to stay away from Stacey Slater (Lacey Turner) because she told him that Archie raped her while she was ill, and Bradley leaves. As Archie picks up the snowglobe from the floor, the bust of the Queen Victoria is pushed from the bar, and it hits him over the head. Moments later, Ronnie finds him and he struggles to say his final words, "Veronica, I'm sorry," before dying. His body is taken away the next day. Several people leave floral tributes for Archie and the police say that many people have spoken highly of him.
Archie's will is read, revealing that he has left:
- Billy his "stool" at the bar and his room in the Queen Vic, as a place for him to live where he cannot be thrown out;
- Peggy a silver framed photo of their wedding;
- Amy, and Ronnie's "first surviving child", a sum of £100,000 each to be held in trust until their 21st birthdays. Ronnie is unhappy, seeing this as Archie controlling her from beyond the grave, but is not allowed to decline legally;
- Phil his father's "real" boxing trophy, which they had a fight about earlier regarding Archie giving fake ones;
- Roxy his antique fountain pen which she always wanted as a child, as well as the residue of his estate, including his house, car, an engagement ring, The Queen Victoria, the car lot and £3 million;
- Ronnie his signet ring (as well as a note regarding him expecting her to not take any substantial gifts from him);
- Janine his Newton's cradle, "in the sure and certain knowledge that it will drive her absolutely nuts."
A pathologist's report shows that Archie had terminal cancer and only had weeks to live anyway. His funeral takes place on 28 January 2010. On 19 February 2010, the killer is revealed to be Archie's rape victim Stacey, however, the court finds Bradley posthumously guilty of murder. In December 2010, everyone finds out that Stacey was the murderer, and she flees the country, leaving her mum Jean Slater (Gillian Wright) devastated and she blames Archie for Stacey's departure.
Creation and development
The character of Archie was introduced in a group of episodes filmed on-location in Weymouth, Dorset. Viewers were made aware of his feud with daughter Ronnie after he made her give her baby up for adoption as a teenager. Larry Lamb discussed Archie and Ronnie's relationship in an interview with Radio Times: "He has a very chequered past - it's gone very wrong with Ronnie, while Roxy's his blue-eyed girl [...] he's a very family-oriented character and I think he finds the dissent between him and Ronnie a little bit tough to take." He has also said: "Ronnie brings out the worst in Archie, and he gets vicious. Archie wants to put right these long-standing problems he has with Ronnie. But things just get worse." An EastEnders source said of their relationship: "At the moment she has to play the game to get what she wants. But she is more than a match for Archie - and with Phil as back-up she is able to take him on. And one thing is for sure - it's going to be a spectacular war between these two."
The arrival of Archie was anticipated ever since the arrival of his daughters in July 2007, with several actors rumoured to be taking on the role. Janus told Digital Spy, "I would love the idea that this mad, iconic male [Archie] comes back into our lives. It needs to be someone dark — someone that gives a really wiry performance." Simons added, "I don't know why I've got this thing about Bob Hoskins. I've always wanted him to be my dad." Other actors mentioned by Janus and Simons include Terence Stamp, Malcolm McDowell, Michael Caine, Ian McShane and Ray Winstone. Winstone, a friend of Janus, denied claims that he would be playing Archie, joking "I'll play [Ronnie's] fella but I'm not playing her dad!" Veteran entertainer Lionel Blair was also rumoured to be playing Archie, but this was denied. The character's imminent arrival was announced in early March 2008, with Larry Lamb being cast in the role.
The character has been described by EastEnders executive producer Diederick Santer as "a Mitchell through and through", "possessing the unique moral code which that legendary name implies", who will "set the cat amongst the Mitchell pigeons" and "[blow] the complex and darkly-veiled Mitchell world [...] apart." He is also described as "charismatic, authoritative, smart and proper old-school London" and an "archetypal Mitchell", and according to Digital Spy, his arrival will "shed new light on what made Ronnie and Roxy into the women they are and [...] provide some new insights into Peggy [Mitchell]'s history." Santer promised EastEnders' audience "stacks of excitement and drama" upon Archie's arrival.
Speaking of the casting of Lamb in the role, Santer commented: "Larry Lamb is an immensely talented, experienced and charismatic actor. [...] Barbara [Windsor], Rita [Simons], Sam [Janus] and I are very excited to be working with Larry." Lamb said: "I'm absolutely delighted to be joining the Mitchell clan and working with [...] Barbara Windsor and my new-found daughters Ronnie and Roxy. I can't wait to step into Archie's shoes — frankly, it's a badge of honour to join EastEnders. My roots are working class so becoming part of the Square feels right. It's like I've come full circle and am back where I started out." He also described Archie as "different [from Phil and Grant]. He's not [...] frightened to get involved, but he's become more worldly over the years. He's made a success of his life and he's learnt a lot on the way."
Archie is a love interest for Peggy, his brother's widow, despite reports that actress Barbara Windsor did not want any more romantic storylines. Windsor later commented that "she always thought Larry Lamb should star in the [...] soap" and that he is a "match made in heaven" for her.
The character was originally intended to stay on screen only for the duration of the Danielle Jones storyline, however, following the character's departure, it was confirmed he would return due to his popularity with viewers. Again, this appearance lasted for a single storyline, and Archie departed again at its conclusion. Archie returned in an attempt to win Peggy back. Lamb commented on his character's part in the storyline, saying "I do know this dream family is a figment of his imagination. Archie thinks he will prevail, but that's because he's a psychopath!" In June 2010, Lamb revealed that he based Archie on his own father.
After Lamb joined the cast, Diederick Santer commented "I've only seen a handful of scenes that Larry's done so far but I think he's giving a mesmerising and multi-layered performance. There's quite a buzz coming up from the set, and I'm really excited about him." Tim Teeman, critic for The Times, has described Archie as "a thousand times more terrifying than Nick Cotton" and "a psycho in a golf jersey."
The Christmas Day episode in which Archie was killed attracted 10.9 million viewers.
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